Dentist Professional Liability and the Issue of Good Communication


Dentist Professional Liability
Dentist Professional Liability

Professionals that are charging a fee for their services, such as doctors, lawyers, architects, or dentists need the protection provided by liability insurance. Dentist professional liability coverage will protect a burgeoning business against legal issues when a suit is brought against a dental practitioner that claims an injury or damages were the result of negligence, or errors and omission, or the failure to render professional services.  


Claims of this type made against a dentist can be crippling to his or her business and can have a crippling affect on an employee as well. Guarding against these potential losses is necessary to prevent major financial losses, whether business or personal, by carefully constructing an insurance program designed to afford the best possible professional protection.


Communication is key to avoiding mistakes and errors


How the dentist communicates with patients and staff can have a definite effect on the outcome of many situations that occur daily in the performing of dental work. Early recognition of problem patients is important for risk management. Some patients may exhibit negative traits that may include the following:


  • Lengthy care histories from many providers


  • Care by former dentists that were dominated primarily by emergency visits


  • Constant complaints about past or current care


  • Failure to pay for services rendered, and


  • Consistently failing to adhere to advice and instructions


These traits are common in many litigious patients. Prudent practitioners who identify these traits early may discharge or not accept these patients. However, when caring for such a patient, be sure to document the care and issues of the problem individual.


When communicating to staff, speak clearly and be certain that directions or procedures are clearly understood. Having a well-documented chart will often dispel confusion and uncertainty. Ensuring that all aspects of patient care are documented in a timely, chronological, consistent, and legible manner is the key. It can help prove that good, quality care had been rendered.


A well-documented chart also outlines all of the dental care administered and provides a clear chronology of events. Any potential basis for a claim can be dispelled when a plaintiff states that care was not properly documented if the charts prove otherwise. Every staff member who writes in the chart must be aware of these issues. Timed, dated, contemporaneous entries detailing the action, care, communication, prescriptions, phone calls, missed appointments, instructions, and refusals with confirmed, approved initials make up a good chart. When mistakes do occur, dentist professional liability coverage will aid in any defense.